I have been thinking somewhat about Yuri and his influence on my understanding of the world, which I think was quite substantial–as substantial as my parents or anyone else. Also, I was thinking how it intersects with other early experiences.
I feel like starting from a different place though. In recovery kinds of conversations, attempts at empathy or understanding come in the form of “you do this unproductive, self-sabotaging or alienating thing because at one time it kept you safe or it protected you.”
But I think this isn’t a clear idea for me: there is a lack of common ground around the basic assumptions involved–namely that being safe or protected is good or desirable or something one has a right to.
I think I had these early experiences where no one was available and I learned comfort or protection was not possible, and then I was in the hands of a man who held this as a belief or value. Be strong, because there is no comfort and if you do not give in to pain or fear, you at least have some control.
I remember when it clicked in that I actually had no control over my ex or what she did or really even how it affected me. I got that. I got that she hurt me purposely, she knew me well enough to know how to hurt me, and no amount of setting boundaries was going to impact her behaviour.
I knew how to handle that, and I got on with life, knowing that I was going to hurt sometimes.
I think that was Yuri’s inheritance. I don’t really know anything about him. I just imagine what might have created a man like him. I might be overly colourful in what I imagine. The weird thing about my life is there is no one to compare notes with. There is no one to verify any part of what I believe I remember. What is in my own head is the best I have.
That said, I imagine life with alcoholic parents or no parents–an institutional upbringing that is in no way responsive to you as an individual, as someone who is sentient, but responds to you as a machine, because the institution is a machine itself.
I did not grow up like that, but I feel something of an echo of that in my own assumptions about life: I sometimes carry around with me the expectation that life will carry on in a machine-like way, where there is no sentience to communicate with. I think I carry with me an imprint of this institutional life.
Whenever I start asserting myself and I meet with no response, a little voice inside me reminds me of my insignificance within this machine. Specifically, it says, “I don’t count and I don’t matter.”
But this comes from somewhere. It’s learned. And, as I said, I think there is this intersection between my narcissistic parents who did not respond to me, and a set of beliefs and values formed by unresponsiveness in another life and passed down to me.
Yuri gives me this distinction in my mind between intentional cruelty–like my ex’s–and something that is less personal where human beings are merely treated as objects.
Just some thoughts today.